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by Dominick Albano

It’s hard to imagine a heartbreak worse than losing a child.

When a young Catholic speaker gave a Lenten parish mission, he shared with the audience his dreams for his children. “I pray that they will be happy, healthy and, most importantly, holy.”

After the talk, a gentleman with the gray hair and lined-face signaling hard-won wisdom approached the young speaker, thanked him for the presentation, and shared some of his own wisdom.

“When I was a young man, I too prayed that my children would be happy and healthy. But now that I am older, I know that holiness is the only thing that matters. My children all think they’re happy. They’re all healthy. But all of them have left the faith. Please, will you pray for them?”

In fact, this was the prayer request the speaker heard most often: Parents seeking prayers for their fallen-away children. There is unspeakable pain in losing a child, but these parents’ desperation is also something none of us wish to experience.

An old proverb says: Your children are your only gift you can take with you to heaven. But what if you were afraid your children weren’t going to join you?

People are drifting away from the Catholic faith. Countless national surveys from reputable institutions validate this, but none of those are more convincing than our own experience. Each of us knows someone—and probably a handful of people—who left Catholicism, or at least stopped practicing it.

Some stop attending Mass because they are angry—a personal experience or news story drives them away—but many simply drift away. Family obligations and 9 a.m.

Sunday morning out-of-town sports tournaments turn weekly attendees into every-now-and-then attendees. Before you know it, families who finally find a rare weekend with a little bit of breathing room just want to sleep in on Sunday mornings rather than get up and go to Mass. Covid sure didn’t help, but it’s not the root of the problem.

Jesus tells us in John 10:10, “I came that you might have life and have it to the fullest,” but let’s be honest: many of those who drift away don’t find the fullness of life when they attend Mass. They’re more likely to say something like, “I just don’t get anything out of Mass.”

It’s a tragedy, and—thinking of all those heartbroken parents—I mean this quite literally. Something has to turn the tide.

Responding to this need, Archbishop Dennis M. Schnurr is calling on all Catholics across the archdiocese to join him in a special study of The Mass, an inspiring and beautiful video series from Bishop Robert Barron’s Word on Fire Ministries. Each Sunday, from January 8 through February 12, Archbishop Schnurr will email a 25-minute episode from the series along with his own brief insights. Why? Because he deeply desires that every Catholic would come to know the Mass as God’s great gift to us, the source of the fullness of life that Jesus promised.

It’s a new year—the time we think about doing new things and living life a little differently, a little better. Visit catholicAOC.org/theMass, sign up for this special study, and spend 25 minutes a week to see how it can help invigorate your Mass experience. Encourage your spouse to join you and maybe watch it with your kids or talk with them about the videos during dinner. It costs only a little time, but that’s not much when you think of what Jesus promised in return: The fullness of life.

This article appeared in the January 2023 edition of The Catholic Telegraph Magazine. For your complimentary subscription, click here.

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